Who won the third year of the increasingly popular, big-crowd drawing Novemberfest Idol contest? That would be 12-year-old Savanna Cummings, a "little girl with a big voice," according to her sister, and fellow contestant, Lexi Cummings.
"I'm really proud of her," said Lexi Cummings, 14. "Since she's my younger sister it's kind of tough sometimes for her to [compete against me]. But she's a good singer and it's good for her to win. I want her to feel like she's at my level and that she's good."
Like her sister, Savanna Cummings credits her vocal abilities to a family history of singers, including their dad, Glenn Cummings, who headlines The Glenn Cummings Band.
"I've been singing since I was 1 or 2," said Savanna Cummings, a student at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Brandon. "My dad sings, my [grandmother and uncle sing], so it's kind of in my family."
Glenn Cummings said he grew up singing, raised in a single-parent family. "My mom, brother and I, we paid for our room and board singing," he said.
Cummings added that he was reluctant at first to enter his daughters in the Novemberfest Idol contest. "I want to build them up on their own talent, not on awards, he said. "I didn't want them to get rejected. But rejection is what made me who I am today and rejection is a part of this business."
Besides, added his wife, Paula, "I wanted them to do it, for the experience, the fun and the excitement, so they did it."
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Savanna Cummings said she was surprised to hear her name announced, signifying her victory as the third Novemberfest Idol, behind Taylyn Olney (2011) and Julian Silva (2010).
"I like to perform and I like to share emotion with people, to make them happy," she said.
This year's runner-up was Abby Bailey, a homeschooled junior in high school, who said in a post-contest Facebook post that:
This was one of the greatest competitions I have ever experienced. I got some of the most wonderful feedback, made amazing new friends, and had a blast. ♥
When asked, Bailey acknowledged on stage where she gets her vocal experience: "I sing in the shower," she said. But after the show, she acknowledged that much of her experience comes, too, from performing on stage with local community theater groups, including Plant City Entertainment, Stagedoor Performing Arts and the Village Players.
"There was a lot to list so I though I'd just say, 'in the shower,' " Bailey said good-naturedly after the show. She added that the experience was "really, really awesome" and that she decided to "get up there and just have fun with it."
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What's next for Bailey?
"Just continue to glorify God with the talent he has given me and just continue to do whatever I can with it," she said.
Sherry Fagan Martin, a Novemberfest Idol judge and vocal teacher with Mrs. Sherry's Studio, said it was hard to pick just one winner from a group of talented singers. There were 10 finalists and two wild-card contestants.
"It was difficult because we had a lot of great contestants," she said. "Unfortunately, there could be only one winner."
Novemberfest Idol judges, from auditions to the final round, included Mollie Anderson, a community theater veteran, and Debra Campos, of Music Showcase. Judges for the grand finale, Nov. 11, were singing instructor Tracey Magruder and Meredith Scribner, a vocal coach who counts among her students Jeremy Rosado, a Top 13 finisher in this year's "American Idol" contest.
"Jeremy was the host the first night and he judged the second night and it was just amazing," Fagan Martin said. "He is the sweetest, most humble and most talented young man. It was a blessing to have him here."
Kathy Robinson, who with Lisa Ginaitt chaired the entertainment for Novemberfest, agreed with Fagan Martin's assessment of Rosado.
"He is absolutely what his presence was on American Idol," she said. "He's down-to-earth and he connects with everybody he meets. He performed for us [on Friday night] and after the show he took the kids with him on the rides. You just keep waiting for this persona to go away and it does not. He is just an amazing guy."